Osgoode professor recognized for governance leadership

Business meeting group discussion Shutterstock

Osgoode Hall Law School Professor Poonam Puri has been inducted as a fellow of the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD), a prestigious organization dedicated to governance excellence, in recognition of her governance leadership in Canada.

Poonam Puri
Poonam Puri

Created in in 1997, the ICD Fellowship Award – the organization’s highest honour – is presented annually to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to Canadian enterprises and not-for-profit organizations by bringing strong corporate governance leadership to boardrooms across the country.

Since the award was launched, only 108 Canadian governance leaders have received it, earning Puri a very exclusive spot and representing another milestone in an already accomplished career.

Since Puri joined Osgoode in 1997, at the age of 25, she has taught and produced significant scholarly research on corporate accountability and responsibility, directors’ duties and diversity in leadership, among other areas of research leadership in corporate law and governance. She has received $5 million in external research and program funding.

Puri co-founded and served as academic director of the Osgoode Investor Protection Clinic and the Living Research Lab, a clinic that both provides pro bono legal assistance to individuals who have suffered financial harm and collects real-time data for scholarly research. She is also the founder and director of the Professional LLM in Business Law at Osgoode Professional Development.

In addition to being a former associate dean of research, graduate studies and institutional relations, she is also currently the Chair of York University’s Senate. In 2023, she was named a Tier 1 York Research Chair in Corporate Governance, Investor Protection and Financial Markets, allowing her to continue her research leadership, delving deep into projects on environmental, social, and governance issues and their backlash, as well as corporate governance and artificial intelligence.

The ICD Fellowship Award is only the latest award in Puri’s career, as she has been previously recognized with the Governance Professionals of Canada Peter Dey Governance Achievement Award, the Attorney General of Ontario’s David Walter Mundell Medal, the Royal Society of Canada’s Yvan Allaire Medal and the Law Society of Ontario’s Law Society Medal, among other distinctions. She has also previously been named one of Canada’s Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers and one of Canada’s Top 40 under 40 leaders.

In the community, Puri currently serves on multiple boards, including the Canada Infrastructure Bank and Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital – the latter as Chair. She has previously served as a commissioner of the Ontario Securities Commission and on the boards of the Women’s College Hospital and the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (Pearson Airport), among others.

Further information about her career and recognitions can be found on the Osgoode Hall Law School website.

Ceremony celebrates Pride Month with York University community

York Pride 2024 Ceremony

A ceremony to celebrate Pride Month on June 4 at York University’s Vari Hall Rotunda was attended by staff, faculty, students and other University community members who took part in the day’s events organized by the Centre for Human Rights, Equity & Inclusion in collaboration with the Office of Institutional Events.

Beginning with opening remarks, the event featured a flag unfurling ceremony and booths to share information about 2SLGBTQIA+ resources and services available at York U. Attendees were also invited to enjoy free treats provided by the Office of the Vice-Provost Students and snap a selfie with mascot Yeo.

See a photo gallery of the event below. Visit York University’s Pride Month website to learn more.

Pride Event 2024-48

Passings: Robert Simmons


Robert E. Simmons, a former York University professor and Chair of the English department, passed away on May 19 at the age of 87.

Robert Simmons
Robert Simmons

Simmons joined York U in 1966 as a professor of English at the then newly formed Glendon College. He did so after obtaining his master’s of philosophy degree from the University of Toronto, an experience that included classes with renowned philosopher Marshall McLuhan and literary critic Northrop Frye, which intensified his lifelong love of literature, learning and writing.

During his time at York U – where he remained until his retirement in 2000 – Simmons taught English literature, linguistics and creative writing. He also co-authored the linguistics textbook The Language of Literature and the geography textbook Urban Canada.

Being a longtime fan of William Blake – whose poetry and vision of the human condition deeply affected Simmons and influenced his own writing and creative work – led Simmons to publish a book of literary criticism called A New Interpretation of Blake’s Minor Prophecies.

Even after his time in academia, Simmons continued to pursue teaching and literature, offering weekly creative writing classes at his local library in Chesley, Ont., and editing local authors’ works.

A celebration of life will be held on Aug. 13 in Guelph, Ont., at the Gilbert MacIntyre & Son Funeral Home’s Dublin Chapel. All are welcome to attend. RSVP to Barb Simmons at barbsimmons22@gmail.com

Donations in the late professor’s memory can be made to Alzheimer Society Waterloo Wellington.

Actioning the University’s three-year budget plan approved by the Board of Governors

Aerial view of York Keele campus summer

Voir la version française

At a town hall on Monday, June 10, the York University president and senior leaders will be walking through the recently approved three-year budget plan. The board-approved plan is the result of prudent forecasting, sector analysis and community input. It outlines institutional priorities that recognize the significant budget challenges facing York University, and most other institutions across Ontario, and highlights opportunities for addressing them.  

Over the past several years, the University has worked diligently to advance the priorities in the Senate-approved University Academic Plan 2020-2025: Building a Better Future. By taking advantage of emerging opportunities in a rapidly changing higher education landscape, the University has continued to invest in its growth as a leading institution in post-secondary education, laying a strong foundation for its financial stability. Careful scenario planning also facilitated the University’s ability to mitigate much of the consequences throughout the pandemic, including the closing of borders around the world and the rapid shift to online education.

Nonetheless, the longer-term impact of COVID-19 in combination with other global shifts in population growth and student mobility, and the more recent cap on international students imposed by the federal government, have significantly disrupted the higher education sector. This has resulted in lower enrolment at the undergraduate and graduate levels in 2023-24, which will impact subsequent years. Additionally, in Ontario, the government’s tuition freeze extension through to at least 2026-27 has further reduced revenue in the sector, compelling the University to reconcile its expenditures with declining student numbers and revenue.

The combined impact of these factors, exacerbated by the recent labour disruption and Bill 124 reopener settlements, has created a critical financial situation for the University that is only partially addressed through the carry forward accumulated over the past several years. The University must close an operating gap of no less than $30 million in 2024-25, $80 million next year and $90 million the following year. The cumulative shortfall, if unaddressed, threatens to put the University in a negative financial position by 2026-27.

The University remains focused on providing a high-quality, research-intensive learning environment committed to strengthening the well-being of the communities it serves. The collective efforts of faculty, staff, instructors and students, together with investment from the government, donors and partners, continue to support the realization of this vision. Factors contributing directly to the University’s positive momentum include enhanced scholarships and the development of new services and programs to meet the needs of students and employers; the opportunity to recruit additional students to the Markham Campus; the positive impact the proposed medical school is already having on York’s reputation; and research successes like the Connected Minds initiative, the recent NSERC CREATE grant to study geomagnetic storms and a grant from the province of Ontario to study sustainable research technologies.

This progress is reflected in global and national rankings. For example, the University climbed more than 100 spots in the recent QS Sustainability Rankings, placing 118th out of more than 1,400 institutions globally, and was recognized as a greenest and top diversity employer in Canada

The road ahead

Nevertheless, swift, decisive action is needed for the University to align expenditures with the reduction in enrolment revenue. To do so with minimum impact on the University and its community, continued investment in future growth is imperative, including program enhancement and development, pedagogical innovation such as online and flexible delivery, strategic enrolment management (SEM), research, innovation and commercialization, while also streamlining administrative overhead and diversifying revenue sources.

Along with embedding additional contingencies into budgets that reflect the increasing uncertainty in higher education, recent cost-saving measures include reducing discretionary operating expenses such as travel and hospitality; deferring renovations; and consolidating academic units. The University remains steadfast in its commitment to control costs and prioritize strategic initiatives that will help maintain its positive trajectory and continue to strengthen its impact and reputation among global universities.

The University has identified 17 further actions to guide these efforts. Next steps include consolidating working groups tasked with leading these initiatives and establishing targets and benchmarks to measure progress. Along with actively engaging the Board of Governors, Senate and union partners, the president is inviting the entire University community to participate in a town hall on Monday, June 10. This is one of a number of identified opportunities to discuss the budget and action plan.

The collaborative effort of the whole of the University community will be crucial in defining and implementing the best possible recovery plan, ensuring York University continues to thrive for future generations.

Mise en œuvre du plan budgétaire triennal de l’Université approuvé par le conseil d’administration

Aerial view of York Keele campus summer

Lors de la conversation communautaire du lundi 10 juin, la présidente et la haute direction présenteront le plan budgétaire triennal qui vient d’être approuvé par le conseil d’administration. Ce plan est le fruit de prévisions prudentes, d’analyses sectorielles et de contributions de la communauté. Il décrit les priorités institutionnelles prenant en compte les défis budgétaires importants auxquels York et la plupart des autres établissements ontariens sont confrontés et présente des moyens d’y remédier. 

Au cours des dernières années, York s’est efforcée de faire avancer les priorités du Plan académique de l’Université 2020-2025 : Bâtir un avenir meilleur, qui a été approuvé par le Sénat. En tirant parti de possibilités émergentes dans un contexte d’enseignement supérieur en rapide évolution, l’Université n’a cessé d’investir dans sa croissance en tant qu’établissement de premier plan dans l’enseignement postsecondaire et a établi des fondements solides pour sa stabilité financière. Une planification minutieuse lui a également permis de mitiger de nombreuses difficultés tout au long de la pandémie, notamment la fermeture des frontières dans le monde entier et le passage rapide à l’enseignement en ligne.

Néanmoins, l’impact à long terme de la COVID-19, combiné à d’autres changements mondiaux en matière de croissance démographique et de mobilité étudiante, et le plafond récent imposé par le gouvernement fédéral aux étudiants internationaux, ont sérieusement perturbé le secteur de l’enseignement supérieur, entraînant une baisse des inscriptions aux premier et deuxième cycles en 2023-2024, ce qui engendrera des répercussions dans les années à venir. Par ailleurs, en Ontario, la prolongation par le gouvernement du gel des droits de scolarité jusqu’à au moins 2026-2027 a réduit davantage les recettes du secteur, obligeant l’Université à concilier ses dépenses avec une réduction du nombre d’étudiants et une baisse des recettes.

L’impact combiné de ces facteurs, exacerbé par l’interruption de travail récente et la réouverture des négociations salariales liées au projet de loi 124, a engendré pour l’Université une situation financière critique, qui n’est que partiellement résolue par le report cumulé des dernières années. Elle doit combler un déficit de fonctionnement non négligeable de 30 M$ en 2024-2025, 80 M$ en 2025-2026 et 90 M$ en 2026-2027. Si ce déficit cumulé n’est pas comblé, l’Université risque de se trouver dans une situation financière négative d’ici 2026-2027.

L’Université York reste déterminée à offrir un environnement d’apprentissage de haute qualité et axé sur la recherche tout en renforçant le bien-être des communautés qu’elle dessert. Les efforts collectifs des corps professoral et enseignant, du personnel et de la population étudiante, ainsi que les investissements du gouvernement, des donateurs et des partenaires continuent à appuyer la réalisation de cette vision. De nombreux facteurs contribuent directement à cet élan positif comme l’augmentation des bourses et la mise en place de nouveaux services et programmes pour répondre aux besoins des étudiants et des employeurs, la possibilité de recruter plus d’étudiants sur le campus Markham, l’incidence positive que le projet d’école de médecine a déjà sur la réputation de l’Université et les succès de la recherche comme l’initiative Connected Minds, la récente subvention CREATE du CRSNG pour étudier les orages géomagnétiques et une subvention de la province de l’Ontario pour étudier les technologies de recherche durables.

Ces progrès se reflètent dans les palmarès mondiaux et nationaux. L’Université a notamment gagné plus de 100 places dans le récent classement QS sur le développement durable, se classant 118e sur plus de 1 400 établissements du monde entier, et York a été reconnue comme un employeur écologique et favorable à la diversité au Canada. 

Le chemin qui reste à parcourir

Des mesures rapides et décisives doivent néanmoins être prises pour que York aligne ses dépenses sur la réduction des recettes provenant des inscriptions. Pour y parvenir avec un impact minimal sur l’Université et sa communauté, il est impératif de continuer à investir dans la croissance future, notamment dans l’amélioration et le développement des programmes, l’innovation pédagogique, y compris l’enseignement en ligne et flexible, la gestion stratégique des inscriptions (SEM), la recherche, l’innovation et la commercialisation, tout en rationalisant les frais généraux administratifs et en diversifiant les sources de revenus.

Outre l’intégration de provisions supplémentaires dans les budgets pour tenir compte de l’incertitude croissante dans l’enseignement supérieur, les mesures d’économie récentes comprennent la réduction des dépenses de fonctionnement discrétionnaires comme les dépenses de voyage et de représentation, le report des rénovations et la consolidation des unités d’enseignement. L’Université maintient son engagement à contrôler les coûts et à donner la priorité aux initiatives stratégiques qui l’aideront à maintenir sa trajectoire positive et à renforcer son incidence et sa réputation parmi les universités mondiales.

York a retenu 17 actions supplémentaires pour encadrer ces efforts. Les prochaines étapes consistent à consolider les groupes de travail chargés de diriger ces initiatives et à établir des objectifs et des critères de référence pour mesurer les progrès accomplis. En plus d’impliquer activement les membres du conseil d’administration et du Sénat et nos partenaires syndicaux, la présidente invite l’ensemble de la communauté universitaire à participer à la conversation communautaire du lundi 10 juin. Ce sera l’une des occasions de discuter du budget et du plan d’action.

La collaboration de l’ensemble de la communauté universitaire sera essentielle pour définir et mettre en œuvre le meilleur plan de redressement possible afin que l’Université York continue à prospérer pour les générations futures.

Lassonde prof tackles AI in health care with support from tech giant

hand holding heart near stethoscope BANNER

Laleh Seyyed-Kalantari, a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science at York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering, recently received a monetary gift from Google as part of the company’s Research Scholar Program.

Laleh Seyyed-Kalantari
Laleh Seyyed-Kalantari

Google’s Research Scholar Program aims to support early-career professors by providing generous funding and encouraging the formation of long-term partnerships. The funding is considered an unrestricted gift to help professors advance their cutting-edge work, ranging from quantum computing to health research.

Seyyed-Kalantari’s research focuses on investigating and improving the fairness of artificial intelligence (AI) models used in medical practice, aiming to ensure they benefit all users regardless of race, age, sex and socioeconomic status. Her laboratory, the Responsible AI Lab, is currently working on many projects, including one tackling the fairness of AI in medical imaging and large language models, as well as AI applications in drug discovery. She is one of many Lassonde researchers working on York University’s multimillion-dollar project Connected Minds: Neural and Machine Systems for a Healthy, Just Society.

“After receiving the award, my research group and I met with Google to share research ideas and plan collaborative projects,” says Seyyed-Kalantari. “This will be a great opportunity for my students to work closely with an industry leader and advance our research.”

With a budding partnership and vote of confidence from Google, Seyyed-Kalantari is ready to help to right the future by addressing the challenges of AI in health-care settings through her research.

Nomination de Leigh Scott au poste de dirigeante principale et VPA RH à compter du 1er juillet 2024

York banner in front of building, blue sky BANNER

Chers collègues,

J’ai le plaisir d’annoncer la nomination de Leigh Scott au poste de dirigeante principale et vice-présidente adjointe des ressources humaines (VPA HR), à compter du 1er juillet 2024.

La fonction de direction principale et VPA RH assure un leadership prospectif, dynamique et collaboratif, guidé par les principes de justice et d’équité, dans le cadre de la supervision des multiples fonctions de ressources humaines. Ce rôle est essentiel dans l’élaboration de stratégies et de pratiques axées sur le personnel, pour faire progresser la mission de l’Université en portant une attention toute particulière sur la division de l’équité, des personnes et de la culture sur la culture organisationnelle, y compris, mais sans s’y limiter, les principes énoncés dans la Stratégie de décolonisation, d’équité, de diversité et d’inclusion de l’Université York. Notre priorité absolue était de trouver la meilleure personne pour assurer une direction stratégique et s’investir dans la culture de l’organisation.

Leigh Scott se joindra à York après avoir occupé le poste de vice-présidente par intérim du personnel, de la culture et de l’expérience à l’hôpital Grand River depuis mai 2023. À ce titre, elle a assuré la direction stratégique et la supervision opérationnelle de toutes les fonctions essentielles liées au personnel de l’hôpital, notamment la formation et le développement organisationnel, les relations de travail et avec le personnel, l’acquisition de talents, la rémunération globale, la santé et la sécurité au travail, les services de soutien aux personnes en situation de handicap, la santé et le bien-être du personnel, ainsi que la diversité, l’équité et le sentiment d’appartenance.

Auparavant, Mme Scott était directrice de l’acquisition et de la rémunération des membres de l’équipe à l’hôpital Grand River.Elle possède une grande expérience des soins de santé communautaires en matière de changement organisationnel et systémique, de mesure et d’amélioration des performances, de développement du leadership et de renforcement des capacités, ainsi que de relations de travail et avec le personnel.

Mme Scott est titulaire d’une maîtrise en leadership de l’Université de Guelph et d’un baccalauréat spécialisé en administration des affaires de l’Université Wilfrid-Laurier. Elle a également suivi le programme Advanced Health Leadership de l’Université de Toronto et a parrainé la participation organisationnelle au programme Leadership for Performance Excellence du Centre for Healthcare Quality Improvement (CHQI).

Son engagement envers le leadership, l’amélioration continue et la promotion de l’apprentissage et de l’innovation seront des outils précieux dans sa collaboration avec la haute direction, afin de faciliter la transformation culturelle et systémique des ressources humaines par le développement de stratégies, de services, de systèmes, d’initiatives et d’opérations.

Joignez-vous à moi pour remercier Mary Catherine Masciangelo pour ses nombreuses contributions à York; nous lui souhaitons une retraite bien remplie et satisfaisante. Lauri Green, directrice de la planification des ressources humaines, assumera l’intérim AVP RH après le départ à la retraite de Mary Catherine, le vendredi 7 juin, et ce, jusqu’au lundi 1er juillet, date à laquelle Mme Scott nous rejoindra.

Veuillez vous joindre à moi pour souhaiter la bienvenue à Leigh Scott dans ses nouvelles fonctions et à York. Je suis convaincue que, grâce à son expertise et à son intégrité, elle jouera un rôle clé pour faire de York un lieu où tous les membres de la communauté peuvent s’épanouir.

Vers l’avenir,

Laina Y. Bay-Cheng
Vice-présidente intérimaire de l’équité, des personnes et de la culture

Appointment of chief human resources officer and assistant vice-president, human resources

York banner in front of building, blue sky BANNER

Voir la version française

Dear colleagues,

Leigh Scott
Leigh Scott

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Leigh Scott to the role of chief human resources officer (CHRO) and assistant vice-president, human resources (AVP HR), effective July 1, 2024.

The CHRO and AVP HR provides forward-looking, dynamic and collaborative leadership, guided by the principles of fairness and equity, in their oversight of multiple HR functions. They play an essential role in developing employee-centred strategies and practices that advance the University’s mission and the Division of Equity, People & Culture’s particular focus on organizational culture, including but not limited to principles outlined in York’s Decolonizing, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy. Finding a leader who can provide strategic leadership, and who will be invested in organizational culture, was our top priority.

Leigh will be joining York from Grand River Hospital, where she was the interim vice-president of people(s), culture, and experience since May 2023. In that role, she provided strategic leadership and operational oversight for all core people functions at the hospital, including learning and organizational development, labour and employee relations, talent acquisition, total rewards, occupational health and safety, disability support services, employee health and wellness, as well as diversity, equity and belonging.

Prior to that role, Leigh was the director of team member acquisition and rewards at Grand River Hospital. She has extensive experience with community-based health care in organizational and system change leadership, performance measurement and improvement, leadership development and capacity building, and labour and employee relations.

Leigh holds a master’s of leadership from Guelph University and an honours bachelor of business administration degree from Wilfrid Laurier University. She has also completed the University of Toronto’s Advanced Health Leadership Program and sponsored organizational participation in the Centre for Healthcare Quality Improvement’s Leadership for Performance Excellence program.

Leigh’s dedication to leadership, continuous improvement and fostering learning and innovation will be valuable tools as she collaborates with senior leaders to facilitate cultural and systemic transformation in HR through the development of strategies, services, systems, initiatives and operations.

Please join me in thanking Mary Catherine Masciangelo for her many contributions to York and wishing her a full and fulfilling retirement. Lauri Green, director of people planning, will serve as acting AVP HR for three weeks after Mary Catherine’s retirement on Friday, June 7, until Leigh joins us on Monday, July 1.

Please kindly join me in welcoming Leigh to her new role and to York. I am confident that with her expertise and integrity, she will play a key role in making York a place where all community members can thrive.

Looking forward,

Laina Y. Bay-Cheng
Interim Vice-President Equity, People & Culture

Join the York community for a virtual town hall on June 10

Aerial view of Kaneff Tower

Voir la version française

Dear York community, 

On behalf of the president of York University, we invite you to attend a virtual town hall on Monday, June 10, where we will share the multi-year budget approved by the Board of Governors. The town hall will focus on how we can all work together to advance York’s academic plan in a financially sustainable manner. Following the presentation, we invite your questions and comments.

Participants are required to register for the town hall in advance using their York U email (i.e. email addresses must end in @yorku.ca to be valid for registration).

Questions and comments can be submitted prior to and during the event by emailing conversations@yorku.ca. Learn more about the upcoming event on the Community Conversations website.

Date: Monday, June 10
Time: 10 to 11:30 a.m.  
Link to register: yorku.ca/go/june2024presidentialtownhall.


Rhonda Lenton 
President & Vice-Chancellor  

Le 10 juin, joignez-vous à la communauté de York pour une conversation communautaire virtuelle

Aerial view of Kaneff Tower

Chers membres de la communauté de York,

Au nom de la présidente de l’Université York, nous vous invitons à participer à une conversation communautaire virtuelle le lundi 10 juin, au cours de laquelle nous vous présenterons le budget pluriannuel approuvé par le conseil d’administration.La conversation communautairese concentrera sur la manière dont nous pouvons travailler ensemble pour mettre en œuvre le Plan académique de York d’une manière financièrement durable. Après la présentation, nous vous inviterons à poser toutes vos questions.

Les participants doivent s’inscrire à l’avance à la conversation communautaire en utilisant leur courriel de l’Université York (qui doit se terminer par @yorku.ca pour être valable).

Vous pouvez soumettre vos questions et vos commentaires avant et pendant l’événement en envoyant un courriel à conversations@yorku.ca. Pour en savoir plus sur l’événement, visitez le site Web des Conversations communautaires.

Date : Lundi 10 juin
Heure : De 10 h à 11 h 30   
Lien pour s’inscrire : yorku.ca/go/june2024presidentialtownhall.

Sincères salutations,   

Rhonda Lenton
Présidente et vice-chancelière